My top priorities in the 2016 Legislative Session include
attempting to address climate change and poverty.
Although our economy is improving, more and more people are falling behind. Over half of all jobs in the United States earn less than $30,000 per year, and countless others would do anything to earn that.
I support legislation that protects vulnerable populations by providing access to affordable health care, affordable housing, and access to public benefits and services. I also support legislative efforts to address the cliff effect, which cuts benefits too quickly to those who are trying to regain a foothold by getting jobs.
Finally, I believe high quality, well-funded public education is one of the best investments our state can make for future Coloradans. I support increased funding for a quality public education system in Colorado.
Today’s wildfire issues across the country can be traced to decades of fire suppression. As more people move into the wildland-urban interface, the opportunity for catastrophic events increases.
I believe that fire issues should be dealt with as part of an overall strategy to manage forests with forest health as the overarching goal. We must protect water sources in our forests, prepare for fires, and support forest restoration and wildfire mitigation, including prescribed burns.
I support efforts to increase funding for mental health screenings and treatment capacity, as well as efforts to reduce substance abuse.
ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Colorado must continue to move strongly toward a clean energy future. Global climate change is real, human-caused, and we are already feeling its effects.
We must transition more quickly from fossil-fuel derived energy sources to renewables. We must also improve our energy infrastructure to be able to use the energy we already produce more efficiently.
We must regulate non-renewable resources more vigorously. This includes:
- requiring baseline water testing and well-site inspections
- addressing air and water quality impacts associated with
oil and gas operations
- improving oversight over hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
- increasing disclosure requirements for accidents, leaks, and spill
- increase well monitoring
- require notice and regulation of what’s being pumped into
our ground water
- require increased capture of toxic emissions and greenhouse gasses
from fracked wells
- giving local governments broader authority to regulate land use
- activities of the oil & gas industry
I support legislation that works to advance an aggressive clean energy agenda for Colorado. This includes legislation which:
- promoting electric vehicles
- fostering incentives to increase energy efficiency and
renewable energy use
- requiring greater disclosure at the Public Utilities Commission
- allowing 3rd parties greater ability to intervene at the PUC
- promoting policies to make it easier to develop solar gardens
- promoting solar thermal technologies
I believe the death penalty system in Colorado is fundamentally broken and should be eliminated. The death penalty is bad policy. Indeed, police chiefs in Colorado and nationwide rank it as one of the least effective uses of taxpayer dollars for law-enforcement purposes. Although prosecutors claim they need the death penalty to secure guilty pleas in murder cases, most Colorado DAs never pursue death, and those that do have repeatedly rejected defendants’ offers to plead guilty in exchange for life-without-parole sentences.
The death penalty costs too much. A death penalty case in Colorado costs roughly 25 times as much each year as a non-death-penalty first-degree murder case, and takes years longer just to reach a verdict. The death penalty is unfair. I am deeply troubled by the reality that all three men on Colorado’s death row are African-American, all were under 21 at the time of their capital crimes, and all were convicted in Arapahoe County.
Arbitrary factors like race, youth, and geography should not decide who gets the death penalty. Most of all, the death penalty is irreversible. If we continue to use the death penalty, we run the intolerable risk of executing an innocent person. Nationally, at least 59 death row inmates have been exonerated in this century alone, demonstrating that innocent people can be and are sentenced to death.